Wednesday, 17 August 2016

llisha of Loon Watch Spreads Myths and Propaganda About the Crusades, Part 2 Islamic Violence and Its Chroniclers

As we remember llisha of Loonwatch makes the following statement

Part 2 Islamic Violence and Its Chroniclers
   As llisha complain about the innate violence in the crusader chronicles and how they "boasted of killing in lurid detail", I wonder however if she has read the Arab chronicles of the Islamic rulers of the day where they  boast about killing and rape. We shall see not only is llisha's demonisation of the crusaders and their chronicles absolutely false, so too her false ideological concepts that assert that Muslims were less violent historically.

    llisha doesn't seem to know  that Arab chroniclers recorded massacres by Islamic forces. I have already covered the massacres of Christians carried out by Baybars at Antioch and  Imad ad-Din Zengi at Edessa in my previous  post. We shall see that these are not the only instance of massacres perpetrated by Muslims. As I previously argued, if a city resisted by the standards of the day it was normal for its inhabitants to be put to the sword and enslaved. However, we shall see that Islamic massacres far exceeded the Crusaders at Jerusalem

The Seljuk massacre of the Armenian Christian city of Ani in 1064

Sibt ibn al-Jawazi
"The (Seljuk) army entered the city, massacred its inhabitants, pillaged and burned it, leaving it in ruins and taking prisoner all those who remained alive...The dead bodies were so many that they blocked the streets; one could not go anywhere without stepping over them. And the number of  prisioners was not less than 50,000 souls. I was determined to enter the city and see the destruction with my own eyes. I tried to fin a street in whcih I would not have to walk over the corpses; but that was  impossible."
An Eyewitness quoted by Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi in John Julius Norwich, Byzantium: The Apogee, p.342 - 343

Sibt ibn al-Jawazi is corroborated by a Christian Armenian chronicler 

Aristakes Lastivertsi
"Now the Seljuk King (Alp Arslan) came with many myriads of armed troops and entered our land, spreading dread and terror among those far and near. He trampled on and overturned many lands until he reached the city (of Ani)... Putting the Persian sword to work, they spared no one... One could see there the grief and calamity of every age of humankind. For children were ravished from the embraces of their mothers and mercilessly hurled against rocks, while mothers drenched them with their tears and blood. the city became filled from one end to the other with bodies of the slain and (the bodies of the slain) became a road." 
Aristakes Lastivertsi, A History regarding the Sufferings Occasioned by Foreign People's Living Around Us 1000 - 1071

Saladin Killed Women and Children

    In the popular myths that surround Saladin, he is often presented as a merciful and benevolent ruler which is contrasted to the excesses of the brutal crusaders. This is far from the case. Saladin was just as violent as any crusader, people forget his bloody usurpation of the Egyptian throne and his brutal treatment of his fellow Muslims there. In 1169 Saladin massacred the women and children of the Sudanese soldiers who rebelled against him.

Historian Andrew S. Ehrenkerutz writes  
"While the Battle was raging, in the Bain al- Qasrain area, Saladin proceeded with a gruesome measure  against the mutinous Sudanese. With only women and children left in the Sudanese  barracks outside Zuwayla gate, Saladin's soldiers  suddenly appeared and set fire to the entire area. The news of this terrible act against their defenseless families caused understandable consternation amongst the Sudanese soldiers. To destroy nests of resistance, the pursuing troops had to burn house after house sheltering the fleeing Sudanese. At one stage, Armenian archers, shooting from their quarters near Bain al Qasrain tried to  contain the advance of the pursuers but their place was ignited so that all perished in the flames. When finally  the slave soldiers reached Zuwayla gate, they found their only escape route cut off. After two days of fierce fighting, the Sudanese agreed to lay down their arms if Saladin would offer them safe conduct. Their request was granted on condition  that they promised to leave Cairo. The defeated and disarmed  Sudanese marched out where they set up their  camp in Giza where in a  cynical violation of the safe conduct pledge - they were massacred in cold blood by Shams al-Dwlah, Saladin's brother. Only a small fraction of the original slave guard  regiments survived this blood bath and escaping to upper Egypt they were hunted down by Shihab al-Din al Hamri who was assigned that mission by Saladin himself"
Saladin" p.78 -79

Saladin Murdered Captured Prisoners: 

   Far from being  the epitome of mercy as presented in the film the Kingdom of Heaven, he massacred captured crusaders in numerous instances. Saladin massacred hundreds of  captured Templars and Hospitalers in 1187, after Hattin. Whilst Richard did massacre  prisoners in 1191, as we have seen that was largely an act of military expedience. However, Saladin seems to have massacred the Templars for largely political and religious reasons as they were the strongest crusader warriors.  Saladin actually prevented  the Templars from being ransomed just in order to massacre them. The massacring of prisoners who had surrendered was in contravention of Shariah law and Saladin's own brother  criticised him for it. 

Imad ed-Din 
" Saladin ordered that they (captured Templars) should be beheaded, choosing to have them dead rather than in prison. With him was a whole band of scholars and Sufis and a certain number of devout men and ascetics, each begged to be allowed to kill one of them, and drew his sword and rolled back his sleeve. Saladin, his face joyful, was sitting on his dais, the unbelievers showed black despair."
Arab Historians of the Crusades p. 138

Ibn al Athir
"  At  the Sultan's command, the King was sent to Damascus, while the Templars and Hospitallers were rounded up to be killed. The Sultan realised those who had taken them prisoner were going to hand them over for they hoped to obtain ransoms for them, so they offered 50 Egyptian Dinar for each prisoner.  Immediately he got 200 prisoners who were decapitated at his command. He hated these particular men killed because they were the fiercest of all the Frankish warriors. In this way, he rid the Muslim people of them. He sent orders to his commander in Damascus to kill all those found in his territory whoever thy belonged to and this was done."
The Age of Nur al-Din and Saladin. Translated by D.S. Richards. (Ashgate, 2007), p. 322-324.

Historian W.B. Bartlett Writes
"  A party of Muslim soldiers ran over and struck off Reynald's head. In a gory gesture of vengeance Saladin took some of Reynald's blood and sprinkled it over his temple. The dishonour that Reynald had bought by his actions was expunged by the shedding of blood. The head of the once proud Reynald was taken to Damascus and dragged along the ground as a symbolic affirmation of Saladin's triumph. Guy looked on in horror, fearing that he would be next. Sensing  his terror, Saladin reassured him "A King does not kill a king", he said gently. And, he might have added, a king does not throw away a great bargaining chip such as Guy, King of Jerusalem.

   The barons too would be well treated, held for ransom against the future conquest of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. For the knights of the Orders though, no such mercy would be given. Hagiographers of Saladin frequently emphasise his compassion, but such a quality clearly did not extend  to the Templars and the Hospitallers. Saladin ordered that almost to a man they should be slaughtered. They were a fearsome foe, sworn to fight  the enemies of Christ and debarred from negotiating their release via ransom. They could not be allowed to live. They were therefore taken off to Damascus to await their cruel fate.

    A terrible scene played out in that city on 6 July, one that does little credit to Saladin's reputation... Those of the orders  who  survived Hattin were given a choice between conversion to Islam or death; no choice at all for most of the knights who had sworn sacred vows and given their lives to the glory of Christendom. The fate of most of these knights was sealed... the remainder of some 230 knights were doomed.

  The location of this macabre ceremony is much more than a minor detail. There was a history of captive Crusaders being humiliated over the years as a way of emphasising the triumph of Islam as well as maximising the propaganda benefits of rulers who thereby demonstrated their power and success to their people. Nur ed-Din had paraded Crusader captives in full armour through the streets of Damascus in 1157 and some of those captured after  Reynald's raids earlier in the 1180s had been beheaded in Mecca. 
    Given this, surely the executions took place in Damascus, where the citizens could rejoice first hand in the glory of the Muslim triumph and the strength of Saladin. It was an outstanding public relations coup for the Sultan and, shrewd politician that he was, he would likely have milked it for all that it was worth. This would help to cement his position in the affections of his people - a trick he is unlikely to have missed. It did not perhaps accord with the image of the gallant warrior that he was fostering, consciously or otherwise, but chivalry it seems had its limits.

  Saladin's  actions in effectively attempting to use force to coerce his captives to convert to the Muslim religion were essentially un-Islamic. Such tactics were against the  tenets of the faith. The most likely explanations for Saladin's motives is that he meant to humiliate the Orders, again  emphasising the triumph of Islam. He probably felt that he could offer them the choice because he believed that none would avail themselves of it. Those who did choose to become Muslims would be outside the communion of  the order forever and would be  permanently disgraced. But he did at least give them what many of them aspired to, martyrdom for their faith, a death of supreme honour that would redound to their glory and help smooth their passage to heaven....

    Saladin gave the task of dispatching the less fortunate knights of the Orders to a group of religious Sufis, holy men largely untrained in the arts of war. Some of them took six or seven attempts to sever the heads of their victims. Ironic cheers went up  when a head came off after one blow. However justified the deaths of these men might have been in military terms, the cruelty and indignity of their deaths did Saladin no credit whatsoever. It was an act of violence, almost barbarism, which Saladin's apologists have all to frequently glossed over

   For many of the Turcopoles there would be no mercy either. Traitors in the eyes of the Muslim army, they were put to death. For  the ordinary foot-soldier or camp follower too - that  is, the bulk of the Christian army -  the future was hardly less bleak. They were also taken, along with the  captured barons, to Damascus. But whereas the latter would by and large soon return to lives of relative comfort, their freedom purchased by extravagant ransom, for the poor a life of slavery and hardship beckoned. Their numbers were so great that a bizarre economic effect occurred  -  extensive deflation for the price of a slave. In one case, a Muslim captor decided his prisoner was worth so little  that he was exchanged for a pair of sandals."
Downfall of the Crusader Kingdom, p.203-206

Baha al-Din
"  No sooner had he (Saladin) come down from the Tall than a Frank captured from the enemy was brought to him. He invited the man to embrace Islam and when he refused gave the order for his head to be cut off which was done in his presence" 
Arab Historians of the Crusades  p.103

 Some crusader Red Sea raiders were surrounded so they surrendered to Saladin's forces. Saladin distributed them throughout his realm and had them publicly executed. Two were taken to Mecca, during a pilgrimage and publicly and ritualistically murdered.

Historian Bernard Hamilton Writes
"al-Adil wrote to inform Saladin of that happened and the sultan ordered that all the prisoners should be executed because they had knowledge of the Red Sea routes. The captives were distributed to various parts of Saladin's dominions to publicise his victory and exemplify his justice and were put to death, but a more sinister  fate was reserved for two for them. They were taken to Mecca where, during the great annual pilgrimage, they were led outside the city of Mina. This is a stage in the pilgrimage at which the faithful offer animals for slaughter and give their flesh to feed the poor. There , among a zealous and hostile crowd of thousands of pilgrims, the two Christian prisoners were slaughtered "like animals for sacrifice", presumably by having their throats cut. These two unknown Franks  have a tolerable claim to have been the first western Christians to set foot in the holy city of Islam, four centuries before Varthema."
The Leper King and His Heirs: Baldwin IV and the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, p.183

Saladin butchered a Christian  prisoner just because his son sustained a facial scratch during battle.

Historian Andrew S. Ehrenkerutz writes 
"  Did Saladin give thought to the people  he had eliminated during his career? The shrewd Shawar, the brilliant poet Umarah, the great religious philosopher al-Suhrawadi?  Did he recall the bloody  vengeance exacted from the vanquished Frankish prisoners, massacred wholesale or individually, like Reginald of Chatillon or like that unlucky common Christian soldier whom the sultan had slain when he noticed a minor facial scratch his son al-Afdal sustained in the battle of Arsuf."
Saladin p.228

   Whilst llisha complains about crusader violence and the crusader chronicles "boasting about killing in lurid detail", she ignores the fact that Arab sources boast with glee at Saladin killing captured Templars.

Saladin killed heretics

  The renowned Persian philosopher as-Suhrawardi was killed by Saladin for being a heretic.

Baha al-Din
" He (Saladin)  hated philosophers, heretics, materialists and all opponents of the law .For this reason, he commanded his son  al- Malik Az-Zahir, prince of Aleppo to punish a young man called as-Suhrawardi who called himself an enemy of the law and a heretic. His son had the man arrested  for what he had heard of him and informed the Sultan, who commanded  that he be put to death. So he was killed, and left hanging on the cross for several days."

Arab Historians of the Crusades p.90

Saladin Pillaged

  Saladin pillaged and burnt entire regions  held by the  Crusaders with inevitable loss of civilian life

Ibn Al Athir
"While the prince was besieged and powerless to defend his lands and fear of  al-Afdal's army kept the Franks Immobilized at home, Saladin was free to besiege and pillage, burn and ravage the whole region which he did"
 Arab Historians of the Crusades  p. 117

Ibn Al Athir
"Saladin sent guerilla bands from the Tiberias region who devastated Frankish lands and returned unscathed."
Arab Historians of the Crusades p.115

The Siege of Jerusalem in 1187

   There is a popular myth   that made its way into the movie The Kingdom of Heaven.  Saladin, in the movie is shown as letting the entire Christian population go free after the siege of Jerusalem. In the movie he says "I will give every soul safe conduct to Christian lands, the women, the children and all your knights and soldiers and your queen, no one will be harmed." The movie contrasts this  to the "Christians who butchered every Muslim  within the walls when they took this city." As we  have seen already this is simply not true, historians think the crusaders only killed 3,000 and that many of the city's inhabitants survived.  Similarly, this was the standard practice for the day if a  city resisted. My second major problem with myths propagated by the Kingdom of Heaven, is that it ignores the fact that according to Arab sources, Saladin similarly intended to sack Jerusalem, massacre and enslave the inhabitants.

Imad ad-Din
Quoting Saladin talking to the Christians in Jerusalem. 
"Neither amnesty or mercy for you! Our  only desire is to inflict perpetual subjugation upon you; tomorrow will make us your masters by main force. We shall kill you and capture you wholesale, spill men's blood and reduce the poor and the women to slavery." 
Arab Historians of the Crusades p.156

    The next problem I have with the myths propagated by the Kingdom of Jerusalem is that it ignores the fact that while Saladin did let a lot of the inhabitants go free, It was only those who could afford to pay a ransom.  Those who could not pay because they were too poor according to Arab sources numbered some 16,000 and they were taken as slaves. The film "conveniently" ignores this.

Ibn al-Athir
"  The Sultan agreed to give the Franks assurances of safety on the understanding that each, rich and poor alike should play ten dinars, children of both sexes two dinars and women five dinars. All who paid this sum within forty days should go free and those who had not paid at the end of the time should be enslaved. Those who could not pay and were taken prisoner came to exactly 16,000 persons, men, women, and children"
Arab Historians of the Crusades p.141-142 

Saladin's 8000 Captured Christian Female Sex Slaves

  Another startling omission made by the Kingdom of Heaven is that after the Siege of Jerusalem of 1187, many female inhabitants of Jerusalem could not afford to pay the ransom. They were taken as sex slaves. Arab chronicler Imad ad-Din recounts  the situation with glee, revelling in their suffering, boasting about how the conquering Arabs enjoyed raping them.

Imad ad-Din
"Women and  children together came to 8000 and were quickly divided up among us, bringing  a smile to Muslim faces at their lamentations. How many well-guarded women were profaned. How many queens were ruled,  nubile girls married and noble women given away and  miserly women forced to yield themselves, and women  who  had been kept hidden, stripped of their modesty and  serious women made rediculous. And women kept in private now set in public and free women  occupied and precious ones used for hard work and  pretty things put to the test, and virgins  dishonored and  proud women deflowered and lovely women's red lips kissed and dark women prostrated and untamed ones tamed and happy ones made to weep! How many nobleman took them as concubines, how many ardent men blazed for them, and celibates were satisfied by them, and thirst men sated by them and turbulent men able to give vent to their passion. How many lovely women were the exclusive property of one man, how many great ladies were sold at low prices and close ones set at a distance and lofty ones, abased and savage ones captured and those accustomed to thrones dragged down!"
Arab Historians of the Crusades p.163

 Whilst llisha complains about the crusader chroniclers "boasting about killing in  lurid detail", where is her condemnation of this Arab chronicler's of the crusades glorification of rape and slavery?

Muslim Ritualistic Cannibalism

Usama ibn Munqidh (1095-1188), was a  medieval Syrian knight, diplomat and poet that lived during the first crusade. In his memoirs he records Muslim cannabalism he witnessed in Egypt. Whilst Crusader cannibalism at Maarat al-Numaan is often used to demonise the crusaders, it is worth noting that it  occurred after widespread famine and not under the command of the central leadership. Also, crusader chroniclers were repulsed by these events and relayed them with disgust. Compare this to the account of Usama ibn Munqidh who records ritualised cannibalism in Egypt without any emotion or condemnation. This Muslim account has been largely overlooked whilst the crusaders have been unfairly demonised. 

Usama ibn Munqidh writes
"A young man of the bodyguard saw Ridwan standing by the door of the mosque and said to him "Oh my lord, dost though not want to ride my horse?"  "Surely" replied  Ridwan. So the young man came at a gallop towards him with his sword in hand. He then moved his arm as though bending to dismount and struck him with a sword. Ridwan fell to the ground. The Sudanese rushed and put him to death. The  people of Egypt parcelled out his flesh among them and ate it in order to acquire bravery."
Usama ibn Munqidh , An Arab-Syrian Gentleman and Warrior in the Period of the Crusades p.59

 What does llisha have to say about this Arab account of Muslim ritualistic cannibalism when it is supposedly the crusaders who were the innately violent ones and who boasted about this sort of thing? 

   So we can see  Islamic rulers of the day were just as violent as  the crusaders. llisha's paradigm of non-violent Muslims compared to violent Crusaders and Mongols is utterly absurd, ahistorical nonsense built only on her own ideology and imagination. Similarly, llisha singles out the crusaders and  complains about crusader accounts of "boasting about killing in lurid detail." Obviously, llisha has not bothered to read any of the Arab Chroniclers of the Crusades or she wouldn't make such an ignorant claim. What about Arab Chroniclers who record large massacres and enslavement of entire cities by Muslims at Edessa, Antioch and Ani? Likewise, what about those Arab Chroniclers who record that Saladin revelled in massacring some 200 Templars. There were numerous other instances of Saladin killing prisoners all in violation of Shariah law. Once he did so when his son's face got scratched. Another time, a company of Red Sea raiders who had surrendered were distributed throughout his realm and were all publicly executed. Two prisoners, in particular were taken to Mecca and ritualistically killed there like "animals"  during the time of pilgrimage. What does llisha have to say about that? or what about Saladin massacring women and Children in Egypt? What about Saladin raiding and pillaging Crusader lands which caused civilian casualties? What about Saladin taking 16,000 people prisoners after the Siege of Jerusalem, 8,000 of which were women? Where is llisha's condemnation of Arab Imad ad-Din revelling in their rape and suffering? Where is her condemnation of Usama ibn Munqidh's account of ritualised cannibalism. 

   We can see  from Arab accounts that, the crusaders weren't uniquely violent, the Islamic powers of the day were just as violent. Obviously llisha has not bothered to examine the crusades thoroughly or examine Arab Chroniclers before she points the finger at crusader chroniclers. llisha needs to take her own advice and "pick up a history book." Her comments are motivated by ideology, rather than history.When I confronted her with this she just complained about the size of my post and never actually dealt with anything I said. That is the level of intellectual dishonesty I am dealing with here.


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